Since moving to Birmingham, I’ve had a Bug Man and Bug Lady. The Bug Man used to knock on the door and call out, “Bug Man! Bug Man!” The Bug Lady knocks on the door and says, “Pest Control!” Both hit the door talking and telling stories. They are both such incredible raconteurs that I’ve shaped their words as monologues.
I wrote about the Bug Man in February.
Now it’s the Bug Lady’s turn. She loves Cirque de Soleil. She got her husband loving it too, even though he was suspect at first.
He didn’t like “the-ater.”
But after they saw their first show, he asked her, “When we going back?”
So they drove every year to wherever it was playing – Atlanta, Nashville, Florida – they’d hit the road from Birmingham and go.
Not surprisingly, given her profession, the Bug Lady’s favorite Cirque de Soleil was the one about insects.
But the Bug Lady has had a hard time of it lately. Just like the Bug Man used to do, she talks as she sprays from a canister of pesticide along the baseboards.
The Bug Lady is a Widow
I’m not good. I’m not good. My husband. He passed in June. Heart attack. In the backyard. 56. I was the one who found him. I found him. I’m not good. Not good. I’m in a bad way I’m telling you. You shoulda seen it when I called into work to tell the boss what happened. Me and my husband, we worked at the same place doing pest control.
I said, “I can’t come in today. Donald’s passed.”
Boss didn’t know what to say. There was this big old silence on the phone. Everybody at work took it real bad. Donald had worked there over 16 years. They all loved him.
He was cremated.
So I been bad. Real bad. Not good. I am all right for a few days. But then it comes, hits me, and I just let it. I just have to let it. He was 57. Just 57. He was a workaholic and didn’t take care of himself. I’d get on him about taking care of himself.
He’d say, “I’m gonna die of something. We all gotta die sometime.”
I’d say, “But you don’t got to rush it. You don’t got to hurry it along.”
He wouldn’t listen. Didn’t like to be told nothing. Didn’t eat right. Drank those sugar drinks. He was on four different types of type-two diabetes pills, plus two stool softeners because of all that medication and two fiber pills day too. Had a heart attack. His Mama died at 54. Triple by-pass. She was trying to break up a fight between her two kids in the backyard. Them two ADULT kids was fighting over a car, and she had a heart attack getting between the two of them trying to break up the fight.
When we got married there was seven of ‘em including the mama, and now there’s just two left.
All died of heart attacks. 54. 50. One was 47. Of the two that’s left one’s a workaholic who drinks. My husband didn’t touch alcohol, but he liked his sugar drinks and didn’t eat right. His sister, the workaholic who is an alcoholic, too, doesn’t drink hard liquor. But she likes her beer and she can put it away and that’s what made her overweight. Beer. She likes her beer that one. She builds cabinets for a living. Seven days a week they got her working. It’s too much. Such hard work. A woman building cabinets for a company. The other one just lives at the bar from what I hear.
So now all of them are dead but two.
Dead in their fifties and forties.
I’d get on my husband. I really would. He probably stayed alive longer cause of me. I made him take his pills. I made sure he took his pills everyday. But he drank those sugar drinks. Coke, Sprite, Dr. Pepper. He used to drink sugar-free Dr. Pepper but then he even quit that and went back to the real thing.
You can’t live somebody’s life for ‘em. You can’t do it. You think you can. But you can’t. So I’m bad. Not good. Next month we would have been married 29 years. He was my best friend. But he had a bad attitude about staying healthy. He wanted his sugar drinks.
You know we was friends with this couple, and the husband of the couple had went to help my husband build the shed in the backyard, and then a week after my husband died, that man died too. Heart attack. Gone like that. So we had two funerals in June. And I’ve had two customers to die on me. One, I wasn’t surprised as her health wasn’t good, downhill, but the other shocked me – shocked me cause she seemed so healthy.
It just goes to show you that LIFE IS SHORT.
LIFE IS SHORT.
Your little doggie wants some loving. She knows she don’t get no attention unless the bug lady comes. I’m gonna pet you now, dog. Rotten. Stinking Rotten. How can you not love this sweet face? How can folks not love dogs? And I think I told you that our dog, Alfie, wasn’t allowed upstairs when my husband was alive, but now that he’s passed that dog is back in the bed. I took Alfie downstairs when my daughter and the babies were staying with me, so he wouldn’t wake the babies. Oh how he shivered, sobbed, and carried on.
Then I took him back up to the bed and Alfie just sighed a big sigh of relief.
They’re rotten. They’re like kids. Dogs know what they’re doing. Anyway, I might do a grief group. People have suggested it, but I’m real busy with work, and my family is supportive, but you just don’t know until you’ve been through it yourself. You don’t have any idea. So that’s really all anybody can say is, “I’m sorry.”
But you just don’t know. Nobody knows until they been through it.
I gotta get going.
I’ll see you next time.
As I shape these stories into whatever they are going to be in these days of distraction and a very over-crowded head, I take solace in George Saunders words on writing, and I’ve been sharing this video with my students.